the show

Yes, You Can Grow Roses

air date: February 22, 2014

Yes, You Can Grow Roses, Judy Barrett’s latest book full of rosy tips for no-spray, drought tough beauties. On tour, Penny Kerker-Smith from the First Austin African Violet Society perks up the office and the house with easy-care African violets. Daphne illustrates why not to hedge native Texas sage (cenizo) and highlights spring-blooming perennial Texas Gold columbine, a Texas Superstar plant. Find out when and how to fertilize with Brandi Blaisdell from The Natural Gardener.


Episode Segments

On Tour

African Violets for Office and Home: Penny Smith-Kerker

African violets captivated Penny Smith-Kerker the minute she walked into a First Austin African Violet Society show. She bought a few plants to brighten up her office at IBM. Now a serious grower (while having tons of fun), Penny shows how to grow and propagate these easy-care tidy plants that bloom their heads off.


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Question of the Week

How do I keep Texas sage (cenizo) fluffy, not skimpy?

One problem is hedging Texas sage (cenizo). These plants may tolerate being hedged for a few years, but they ultimately do not perform well when pruned in opposition to their natural growth habit.


If you need a shrubby hedge, choose another plant. Like many native species, cenizos prefer to be left alone, or only pruned occasionally, to remove twiggy, dead stems.


You might notice your cenizos struggling and getting leggy and be tempted to hedge them, but this usually means that they’ve been planted in an area incompatible with their need for bright sun and well-drained soil.


Since cenizos don’t produce new growth in their interior, hedging them removes most of the viable buds, setting up for a situation of sparse new growth on the outside, and non-existent growth on the inside.  This eventually creates a plant that looks very strange, with very few leaves, even fewer flowers, and lots of airy space.


So be aware of your particular Texas sage’s ultimate height and width, and give it the amount of space that it needs to be really happy without the need for pruning.  These plants will fill in, making them great for a living wall, just resist the urge to give them a boxy, hedge-like shape.


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Plant of the Week



With all the mature trees in our older Central Texas neighborhoods, I'm often asked for recommendations on flowering plants that can take the shade. One is Texas columbine, also known as Hinckley's columbine, Aquilegia chrysantha 'Hinckleyana'. And while this plant still needs at least some bright light to form its beautiful yellow flowers, it can usually get enough sun in the late winter/early spring, in that short window while the live oaks are leafless, to make a good spring showing. The 'Texas Gold' cultivar performs just as well as Hinckley's, and has been designated a Texas Superstar, meaning that it has been extensively tested by our AgriLife Extension specialists, and shown to be especially Texas-tough. Although there other columbine cultivars available, 'Texas Gold' and Hinckley's are the most hardy, and the most tolerant of our harsh summer heat. As with most plants that need shade, columbine also needs a little extra water, especially during the hottest, driest months of the year. Amending the planting area with a good amount of compost will help these plants grow and establish quickly. Big note: unlike many other shade-loving plants, columbine cannot tolerate heavy clay soils, and may rot, especially if overwatered in unamended soil. Planting in a raised bed would be best in this situation if you can't amend the soil with sharp drainage from expanded shale or decomposed granite.